23 RTD officers among 31 held over protection racket

The 31 suspects were arrested at the Penang MACC headquarters in George Town this afternoon.

GEORGE TOWN: Twenty-three Road Transport Department (RTD) enforcement officers were among 31 people arrested today by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on suspicion of running a protection racket for lorry drivers.

They are alleged to have either promised that enforcement action will not be taken against lorry drivers who act in impunity, especially overloading their vehicles, or colluding in a larger scheme to protect lorry drivers from certain companies taking action against them.

The 23 RTD officers are aged between 31 and 54.

A source at the MACC said the syndicate was paid protection money ranging from RM10,000 to RM32,000 from each lorry driver.

According to the source, lorry drivers or companies “subscribing” to the racket were given a sticker to identify themselves and also tipped off on operations mounted by RTD and other authorities.

The source said more personnel at Penang RTD were suspected of having received bribes from haulage and transport companies.

The 31, believed to be masterminds of the racket, were detained at the Penang MACC headquarters at Northam Road here this afternoon.

MACC deputy commissioner (operations) Azam Baki confirmed the arrests but declined to comment.